We’ve had the 2017 Lexus GS 300h Executive Edition in for review, the entry-level GS Hybrid. Can Lexus’s GS compete with the class-leading BMW 5 Series?
It’s five years since the current Lexus GS arrived, and more than a year since it got its mid-life facelift. Which, in car terms, makes it rather ancient.
In a less competitive market that may not be too much of an issue, but with the German Premium makers delivering new models to compete against the GS – and Jaguar and Volvo too – is it too much to ask that the Lexus still has enough to compete?
That mid-life facelift did refresh the GS – with the usual new bumpers, new lights and new technology – but was that enough to keep the GS relevant to buyers?
What the GS does have in its favour, particularly with a bit of a backlash against diesel gathering momentum, is its hybrid powertrains; once considered a bit of a disadvantage in the battle against diesel, it’s now seen as the sensible choice.
So we’ve had in the car that is the best-selling GS in the UK – the entry-level Lexus GS 300h Executive Edition – to see if it’s still a sensible, slightly left-field, choice.
GS 300h Executive Edition Inside and Out
The mid-life facelift has lifted the GS’s looks, and injected an aggressive note to what was a more bland looking car before.
The new grille is more in yer face than before and is the standout feature that gets the GS recognised on the road, and the headlights are now Bi-LED, with the running lights moved below. Although they do look a bit like an advert for Nike from some angles.
At the back the tail lights are now LED units too – although they look much the same as they did – and the back end looks cohesive and premium.
The changes to the front and back work well, although the GS does have a bit of a heavy look around its flanks; it’s not so much bloated as just a bit less sharp than you’d like. But on the whole the GS is a good looking car that shouts ‘Premium’.
Inside, there aren’t massive changes, but it’s the usual high-class Lexus interior – a very nice place to be.
This may be the entry-level Executive Edition, but it still comes with very nice leather, high quality materials and, even in this ‘lowly’ spec, a roster of goodies that would make anyone speccing up a premium German car green with envy.
That includes heated electric seats, keyless, climate, LED lighting, Lexus Premium Sat Nav, a decent 12.3″ infotainment (still controlled by the slightly irritating Remote Touch Interface), rear view camera, Bluetooth, auto lights and wipers, parking sensors and much more.
We tried to see what it would cost to spec up an SE 5 Series to the same level, and we got to £6k before we got bored. Which makes the Lexus look one hell of a bargain.
GS 300h Executive Edition Performance on the Road
Lexus is taking safety seriously on the GS, and even on the Executive Edition there’s a full set of technology to make you feel safe including pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise, lane keep assist, sway warning, traffic sign recognition and auto high beam.
The hybrid powertrain delivers a combined total of 220bhp, although the weight of the hybrid powertrain does dull performance a little – 0-62mph takes a slightly lethargic 9.0 seconds.
Around town the GS acquits itself well, responding to gentle inputs with prompt responses and wafting you around in hushed tones, and the added bonus of the electric help does make it feel quite sprightly.
The same applies on a motorway where the GS is a happy cruiser (even if high speed cruising isn’t really a hybrid’s forte), again delivering a quiet and comfortable experience.
Where the GS is less thrilling is on quick back roads, where it’s a bit encumbered by the CVT gearbox and a bit more roll than you’d want, although you can still hustle it around and the CVT ‘box does settle down after its initial reaction to a floored throttle.
But that’s rather the point of the GS; it’s not trying to be a back road blatter, rather a comfortable way to travel in an appealing cabin with enough power to make most tasks comfortable.
It’s also not a diesel, which adds to its appeal in the current climate, and although real world economy is around 40mpg (officially it’s 64mpg) it’s on a par with an equivalent diesel from BMW or Jaguar. And it only emits 104g/km.
GS 300h Executive Edition Verdict
The Lexus GS is competing in a market dominated by the German trio of car makers (and Jaguar and Volvo) but it does offer something quite different.
The Japanese take on a luxury interior works as well in the GS as it does in Lexus’s other models, it looks good and, even in entry-level Executive guise, it offers a huge amount for the money.
Where many will think it fails is in its lack of real dynamic handling, but that’s really to miss the point of the GS.
Lexus has strived to make the GS work well where it will spend most of its time – stuck in heavy traffic or pounding up and down a motorway. And there it works very well.
You’re cosseted in an impressive cabin, all around is nicely hushed, you have masses of toys to play with and the safety stuff and electronic help is all fitted as standard.
For a busy manager in a company car trying to fit more in to their day than they really should, the GS gets you where you want to go, soothes a fevered brow and delivers you refreshed and raring to go. The lack of hair on fire performance and cutting edge dynamics becomes almost irrelevant.
If that’s the life you lead, and you’ve got to stretch a sub-£40k budget to make your life as painless as possible – and want a proper ‘Premium’ car – you’d be daft not to consider the Lexus GS 300h Executive Edition a worthy addition to your ‘look at’ list.
Lexus GS 300h Executive Edition Review Photos
Lexus GS 300h Executive Edition Specs
- Engine: 2494cc Hybrid Electric 220bhp
- Performance: 0-62mph 9.0 seconds / Top Speed 119mph
- Economy: 64.2mpg – Official / 39.1mpg – Test
- Emissions: 104g/km
- Price: £36,125/ Price as tested £36,735
- Test car supplied by Lexus UK